Chuo

Paper
Republic

Chinese Literature in Translation

Resources for:

Pathlight Magazine

Pathlight Cover

A quarterly literary journal featuring translations of the best contemporary Chinese fiction and poetry.

View all issues

 
Pan WeiEric AbrahamsenDai SijieTeng XiaolanThe Three Body Problem

Pan Wei

Eric Abrahamsen

Dai Sijie

Teng Xiaolan

The Three Body Problem

About Links Contact RSS Feed

Beijing Book Fair: Literary Salons

For the second year in a row, Paper Republic is working with the Beijing Interational Book Fair to organize a small literary festival around the fair itself. In Beijing, August 20–28. Click here for this year's program.

Read Paper Republic

Between July of 2015 and July of 2016, Paper Republic publishing one free-to-read short translation on the web every week. Click here to see the full list.

Recent Posts

Interview with Xue Yiwei

Reading and books have played a huge role in my life since 1974, when I was 10 years old and the Cultural Revolution was still (underway). That year, through an “underground channel,” I got access to Western classics for the first time. Five years later, the Chinese door was wide open and all kinds of books were flooding in. The influence of existentialism and modernist literature began to exert (itself) on the younger generation.
—interview with 薛忆沩 Xue Yiwei in the Montreal Gazette.

Ken Liu's translation of the Xue Yiwei story "The Taxi Driver" appeared in the Winter 2012 issue of Pathlight. "God's Chosen Photographer", translated by Roddy Flagg, will appear in a forthcoming issue.

Shenzheners, a collection of short stories by Xue Yiwei (translated by Darryl Sterk) is out next month.

By David Haysom, August 27 '16, 5:48a.m.

leave a comment

BIBF Literary Salons: Midpoint

So we're about halfway through our program of literary events surrounding the 2016 Beijing International Book Fair, which so far has been great fun. Last year, the first year Paper Republic did these "Literary Salons", we were too exhausted to post about this at all, let alone halfway through the program, so I suppose this is progress! To me, it's clear what "progress" consists of: more hands on deck. Last year it was just Dongmei and me; this year we've added Min Jie as our third PR employee, and have a team of three awesome interns, Lirong, Yutong, and Mingjun. The whole this is much more under control, and it's possible to actually enjoy ourselves!

I'll post a few pictures below, but first a few memorable moments:

  1. Putting Alejandro Zambra, the Chilean cultural attaché, and the Chilean ambassador on a stage which, several weeks after we booked it, was turned into part of the children's book zone. The three of them discussed Chilean history and literature against a /Finding Nemo/ backdrop, while the audience sat on colorful little squishy Tic-Tac stools. Zambra is a good sport.
  2. A cocktail party at the Beijing Bookworm. The Bookworm of course runs their international literary festival every March, a much larger and more long-running event than what we're doing here. But the two things are complimentary in spirit, and I'm really glad we were able to work together for the fun part of this week.
  3. Acting as impromptu bodyguard for Nobel laureate Svetlana Alexievich yesterday. Most audience members at the fairground were well-behaved, but a handful had obviously come because – hell or high water – they were going to get a Nobel laureate's signature, even if they had to tackle her. I wasn't expecting tussling to be a part of our literary festival, but hey, it was exciting.

More…

By Eric Abrahamsen, August 25 '16, 11:30p.m.

2 comments

Fifty years since the death of Lao She

lao she
Image from 凤凰文化.

This week marks fifty years since 老舍 Lao She committed suicide by throwing himself into Taiping lake after he was attacked by Red Guards. 凤凰文化 (the Culture branch of Phoenix New Media) has put together a retrospective featuring video interviews with figures such as 葛献挺 Ge Xianting, another member of the Beijing Literary Federation who was present that day, and assorted opinion pieces:

Fifty years on, the people personally involved in that famous “Red August” are now aging or have passed away. If the truth exists only in their memories, then that generation’s departure signifies the loss of a piece of history. Lao She’s death becomes a diluted legend.

In 1984, Orwell wrote: “He who controls the past, controls the future.” If it is not too late, we hope to look back on history, and reawaken memories. On the August 23rd of fifty years ago, what violence and humiliation was Lao She subjected to, to make him step into the icy lake in the midnight hours of the 24th?

More…

By David Haysom, August 25 '16, 5:19a.m.

leave a comment

Hao Jingfang wins 2016 Hugo Award for Best Novelette

ken liu and hao jingfang
Translator Ken Liu and author 郝景芳 Hao Jingfang – image from Hao Jingfang's Weibo.

At Uncanny Magazine:
"Folding Beijing", the story that won the award (beating out Stephen King in the process...)
An interview with Hao Jingfang.
"I Want to Write a History of Inequality" – a guest post by Hao Jingfang (written after being shortlisted for the Hugo).

All three of the above were translated by Ken Liu, whose forthcoming collection, Invisible Planets, which will also feature the story.

On Youtube:
A video of the moment the award was announced, plus the acceptance speeches of Hao Jingfang (in which she expresses her disappointment that she won't be able to attend George R. R. Martin's Hugo Losers party) and Ken Liu.

On The Economist:
Keeping Up With the Wangs: an analysis of the inequality Hao Jingfang explores in her story (published after it appeared on the Hugo shortlist).

By David Haysom, August 22 '16, 12:16p.m.

leave a comment

News: New Possibilities for Old Literary Journals

From Bloomberg Businessweek (Chinese edition):

The literary journal Harvest has an online “youth” edition. At the end of April they announced on their official Weibo account that literary enthusiasts could now submit writing through an app called “Hangju” (行距). Furthermore, editors from Harvest would be using the app to offer guidance to writers. In its first ten days online, Hangju received over 600 submissions, the majority of which were passed on to Harvest. Author Wang Ruohan (汪若菡), recipient of the 2011 People’s Literature Novella Award, was amongst those who submitted work. He said the chance to get input from literary editors was his main reason for using the platform. “Writing is like navigating an ocean,” he says, especially for short story writers, who can lose their bearings completely when embarking on a novel. “I got to 60,000 characters in my first full-length novel before realising something had gone wrong, and there was nothing for it but to chuck it in the trash.” There is no more pressing issue when attempting to write than finding the guidance of a reliable editor.

More…

By David Haysom, August 10 '16, 1:25a.m.

2 comments

Paper Republic vs. Kubin, the Literaturkritiker Lovers of Chinese Lit Love to Diss

I'm in shock! For one, the official Beijing Int'l Book Fair has already uploaded at least a partial list of events open to the public, albeit in Chinese only. In the past, that generally happened on the first day of the fair, or later.

But even more eye-popping is the list of speakers for this (no doubt) bilingual forum on translation:

字里行间中国文学翻译家沙龙

时间:827日星期六14:00-15:30

地点书展作家交流中心作家交流区

嘉宾

陈安娜瑞典高产翻译家)(Anna Chen)

顾彬著名汉学家,翻译家,作家)(Wolfgang Kubin)

埃里克·亚布拉罕森中英文学译者、Paper Republic 创始人)(Eric Abrahamsen)

报名链接:http://form.mikecrm.com/iWsUgu (never mind that this link doesn't work . . .)

For a classic Kubin interview re: his views on contemporary Chinese lit, see this one in English published just two days ago: No innovative culture without contact

By Bruce Humes, August 9 '16, 9:31p.m.

13 comments

It's Women In Translation Month - and Paper Republic has been busy...

August is Women in Translation Month – and we're recommending some excellent women writing in Chinese.
From June 2015 to June 2016, the Read Paper Republic team published a short story/essay/poem translated from Chinese, one a week for a year. For last year’s #WITmonth we published four pieces written by women and translated by women (nos 7-10). The rest of the time, we didn’t pay too much attention to the gender of the writer. So it’s cheering to see that over the entire year, of the 53 pieces we published, 22 were written by women. They are all available online – free to view. Thank you to all our authors and translators.
Also , in May 2016, we drew up a list for The Literary Hub, of 10 CHINESE WOMEN WHOSE WRITING SHOULD BE TRANSLATED: WRITING FROM MAINLAND CHINA, HONG KONG, AND TAIWAN. Read it here: http://lithub.com/10-chinese-women-whose-writing-should-be-translated/

More…

By Nicky Harman, August 1 '16, 11:37a.m.

1 comment

Foyle Bookshop interview with Xinran and Xu Xiaobin

"Iron Girls to Leftover Women: What Next for Chinese Women?" is a blog I've just written for Foyles, a mega-bookshop in London (and elsewhere) with an impressive website including regular blogs. I approached them because I knew they'd ordered some copies of Xu Xiaobin (徐小斌)'s Crystal Wedding and I wanted to do some promotion for the book. But it's hard to interest the general reader in a (virtually) unknown author and book, so I decided to pick up on the piece Xu Xiaobin wrote recently for PEN Atlas, "A sea of red flags" and write about women. Xinran (薛欣然) has written a lot about Chinese women too, and was happy to be included...and so I ended up with two nice interviews. I have no idea if it will shift more books by both these authors off the shelves, but it felt like a worthwhile thing to do......

By Nicky Harman, June 25 '16, 3:47a.m.

leave a comment

Read Paper Republic: Season One, and Survey!

So, it’s rather gone by in a whirlwind, but we’ve reached the end of our first year of Read Paper Republic. Starting June 18 of last year, we’ve published 53 short pieces online, one each Thursday (there’s 53 weeks in a year, right?), and today’s publication of Li Jingrui’s One Day, One of the Screws Will Come Loose marks the end of what we’ve come to think of as “Read Paper Republic, Season One”.

We’re taking a short break! Nicky Harman, Helen Wang and Dave Haysom have done a remarkable amount of work over the past year, and it's time for a breather while we think about where to go from here.

Apropos of that, we have a request to make of you! We’ve created a very short online survey that we very much hope you’ll take a moment to fill out. It’s only a page, and will be invaluable to us as we look back over the past year of publications, and think about the future. Please take five minutes and help us fill it out!

So what will be next? We’re not sure yet. Over the next six months, we’re likely to make some more additions to the RPR lineup, probably based around events and author visits in various parts of the world. “Season One” was done with no funding whatsoever (thanks to all our editors, translators and authors!), and we’re very aware that we could make a hypothetical “Season Two” a lot better with a bit of support.

Got any good ideas for doing that? Please let us know in the survey!

By Eric Abrahamsen, June 16 '16, 2:31a.m.

2 comments

A Bad Year for China

2016 is, everyone agrees, a bad year for China. Usually, what a bad year consists of is everyone telling each other “It’s a bad year here in China”. But there’s good evidence that this year is objectively worse than most. First, there’s Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption crusade, which might be a righteous attempt to return the government to the strait and narrow, but also might be a thinly-disguised campaign to rid the official ranks of the less-than-loyal – and, sadly, is probably both. The past twelve months seem have been a record season for lawyer jailing which is always a really, really bad sign. The internet occasionally verges on unusable. Hong Kong booksellers are disappearing. For some reason, the fact that women’s-rights activist Xiao Meili was stopped by police outside the Beijing Bookworm and turned back from an event she was supposed to attend really drove it home for me.

Even in better times, China’s publishing industry generally leads the nation in gratuitous timidity. The echo-chamber effect is particularly strong here – whispered rumors, sidelong glances, knowing nods, and then the quiet consensus that “we’d better not risk it”. In a country where everyone is kept guessing by the capriciousness of those in power, publishers seem to have more sensitive antennae than pretty much anyone else out there. And apart from occasional meetings with SAPRFFT (where the government directives rarely amount to anything more specific than “be careful, this is a bad year for China”), publishers don’t have much more to go on than water-cooler gossip.

That, and the occasional castastrophic exercise of brute authority.

More…

By Eric Abrahamsen, May 27 '16, 11:20p.m.

14 comments

10 CHINESE WOMEN WHOSE WRITING SHOULD BE TRANSLATED

Paper Republic collective and friends put together this list for LitHub.com:

"Most readers nowadays, asked to name a contemporary Chinese writer, could manage at least one. But the odds are that it will be a man. Yet the near-invisibility of Chinese women writers internationally is entirely undeserved. They flourish on the literary scene at home and have done so since the beginning of the New Culture Movement in the early twentieth century. We are quite proud that this list (drawn up by the Paper-Republic.org collective and friends) ranges so widely. There’s something here for everyone, from travel literature to novels and short story collections, from fantasy and sci-fi to meditations on love and loneliness, with plenty of dark humor along the way. We have included works from all over the Chinese-writing world–mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan (and one from USA too)."

More…

By Nicky Harman, May 25 '16, 3:03p.m.

17 comments

MAO BADGES — RED, BRIGHT AND SHINY (AND OPEN TO EVERY FORM OF CAPITALIST SPECULATION)

Terrific article by Helen Wang and Paul Crook:

"The British Museum collection of Mao badges currently stands at about 350 pieces. It’s part of the UK’s national collection of badges from all over the world. Since the catalogue of Mao badges was published, every so often I receive emails from people who have their own Mao badge collections, often numbering in the hundreds or thousands. One such person is Clint Twist, who, with only a little encouragement a couple of years ago, set up what is probably the first English language website devoted to Mao badges — and tweets a Mao badge almost every day @clinttwist.

More recently, I discovered that one of the British Museum volunteers, Paul Crook, had been a teenage Mao badge dealer in Beijing in the 1960s! Paul — who was recently interviewed by the BBC for a segment on posters from the Mao era — kindly agreed to talk about that time, vividly confirming Dikötter’s statement that “badges were the most hotly traded pieces of private property during the first years of the Cultural Revolution, open to every form of capitalist speculation.”

More…

By Nicky Harman, May 25 '16, 2:59p.m.

leave a comment

Ubiquitous 50 Cent Gang (五毛党): Appearances in Contemporary Chinese Fiction?

One out of 178 social media posts in China's cybersphere are authored and posted by a government employee — totaling 488 million annual posts — according to a new report written by professors at Harvard, Stanford, and the University of California.

It is based partly on analysis of leaked e-mails (43,000!) from an Internet Propaganda Office in Jiangxi. It appears that most are intended to distract the public from bad news. You can read about the report here and here, or download the 34-page PDF here.

So much for quantitative research. I'm more interested in how the 50c Party (五毛党) plays out in contemporary Chinese fiction. I recall the way author Stephen Koonchung recreated one of China's first real social-media-driven “mass incidents” (trucks carrying hundreds of dogs to slaughter in Beijing were blocked by activists thanks to real-time messaging) in his Kafkaesque Unbearable Dreamworld of Champa the Driver. Such scenes in a novel can be quite effective in sensitizing readers to the phenomenon, perhaps more than any single statistics-studded report.

My questions:

  1. Is it permissible to write in detail about such government-sponsored propaganda in short stories, novellas or novels?
  2. How are Chinese fiction writers portraying the impact of the 50c Gang on conversation in shaping public opinion?
  3. Titles of works of Chinese fiction in which 50c Gang activities or members figure prominently?

By Bruce Humes, May 20 '16, 8:28p.m.

3 comments